hart buck – spirit merchant – 1833

My last post on this blog was 11 months ago!

I have been busy elsewhere, organising the Wyong District Pioneers Association centenary celebrations. But still, I am quite surprised I have not been able to find the time or energy to write about my own family history in nearly a year.

To rectify the situation, I am posting this snippet which raises more questions than answers. 

Hart Buck Spirit Merchant advertisement [Stamford Mercury 28 June 1833]

Hart Buck Spirit Merchant advertisement [Stamford Mercury 28 June 1833]

HART BUCK, Spirit Merchant, Grantham, returns thanks to his friends and the public for the very liberal support, he has experienced for many years in the above business, and begs to announce to them that he has removed to a house in the High-street, opposite the Post-office, where he intends carrying on the same, and to serve his friends with an article of the best quality at moderate prices.

This advert, printed in the Stamford Mercury on 28 June 1833, popped up while I was searching The British Newspaper Archive website for great-great-grandfather Hart BUCK who was a draper and cloth merchant in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

It was a surprise to find he was also a spirit merchant. During the 19th century it was common for British wine and spirit merchants to buy their stock by the barrel and bottle it themselves.

Old rum bottles, Stage-coach and Tavern Days, by Alice Morse Earle,1900 [Project Gutenberg]

Old spirit and rum bottles of the nineteenth century came in many shapes and sizes.

Hart BUCK reports he has moved to “a house in the High-street“, not a shop, so I am wondering if his customers came to buy bottles to drink at home or maybe one of the front rooms in the house was set up as a tap room and folks stayed to enjoy a glass or two?

A Hart & Hound Tavern Jug which would not have been out of place in Hart Buck's establishment.

This stag & hound tavern jug would not have looked out-of-place in Hart Buck’s establishment.

This discovery definitely deserves further investigation. Happy National Family History Month cousins!

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Sources:The British Newspaper Archive website; images Stage-coach and Tavern Days, by Alice Morse Earle, 1900 [Project Gutenberg Ebook #37272]


our troops – recruitment 1914

I found this article on NLA Trove newspaper archive, in the Sydney Morning Herald, dated Tuesday 22 September 1914. It gives an insight into the new recruitment arrangements for those enlisting in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), one hundred years ago.

Extract from article in the Sydney Moring Herald, 22 September 1914.

Extract from article in the Sydney Morning Herald, 22 September 1914.



The new arrangements for recruiting from the country came into operation yesterday, and there was a marked improvement in the number of these men coming forward. It is now no longer necessary for applicants to pay their own fares to Sydney and have a receipt in order to get a refund at this end. When passed by local Government medical officers the men are given a pass, as ordinarily used by the Police Department, the Commonwealth Government subsequently making good the amount to the Railway Department. These passes can be obtained at any country police station. In the case of those under 21 years of age the written consent of parent or guardian is required. With this Lieutenant Colonel Antill, the enrolling officer is prepared to take men under 19 years of age – the limit first provided – but they must be over 18 years. The acceptance of applicants, particularly these minors, is a matter left to his discretion.


Volunteers queuing to enlist outside Victoria Barracks, Sydney, 1914-1918. [AWM negative A03406]

The service will accept married men and widowers with children provided they can state that they are aware that no separation allowance will be issued either before or after embarkation and that they signify, on the form of attestation their willingness to allot at least two-fifths of their pay (not including deferred pay) while abroad to their wives, or in the case of a wife and children at least three-fifths. Applicants for enrolment are not to be over 45 years of age and must of course be of the required physique.

Privates are to receive, while in Australia 4s per diem and 1s per diem deferred pay, and while abroad 5s per diem and 1s per diem deferred pay. The period of service is to be for the duration of the war and four months thereafter, unless the men are sooner lawfully discharged, dismissed or removed. No members of either Commonwealth or State Public Service are to be accepted without their departmental head being first consulted.

Intending recruits from the metropolitan area can apply as usual at the barracks and be allocated to duty, subject to their passing the medical examinations, which after tomorrow will be conducted at the Rosehill Racecourse. Batches will be sent away by train leaving each day at about 3 p.m. The recruits will then be taken in hand by the different officers and placed in their respective ranks. A matter of interest to city men is the requirement of good artisans for the Army Service Corps. Fifty-five men were sent there yesterday as drivers. Now word has been received to enlist men (not too heavy) who are qualified saddle or harness makers and others who are good at tent making.

Detail from Private Ernest Clive Buck’s WWI Attestation Papers.

Detail from Private Ernest Clive Buck’s WWI Attestation Papers.


The ranks of the artillery and engineers are filled as far as the New South Wales quota of the second contingent is concerned but the other branches to make up the 3,000, have vacancies for over 1,000 altogether. The enrolling officer is being inundated with letters from country applicants seeking advice, and he wishes it to be made public that the police everywhere have been instructed what to do. Men cannot, he says, pick their jobs. What they are required to do is to get their medical certificate of fitness and a free pass to Sydney. Their services will thereafter be placed to the best advantage. All cannot go to the Light Horse the Army Medical Corps or the Army Service Corps, but men will not be sent to the infantry if they are specially qualified for these other divisions.

As to those who want commissions in the expeditionary forces it is pointed out that it is no use applying to the enrolling officer for these as many are doing. Colonel Antill does not doubt that some of the applicants are deserving of appointment but all he can do is to have their names registered. It rests with the officers commanding the respective divisions to select those considered to be most suitable, and make recommendations accordingly to headquarters.

Recruits undergoing medical examination at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, (1914-1918) [AWM negative A03616]

Recruits undergoing medical examination at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, 1914-1918 [AWM negative A03616]


Yesterdays enrolments did not constitute a record but the total (270) was a distinct improvement. The country was well represented and all the men were of excellent physique. One applicant was from the Northern Territory. He said he had been doing “kangarooing and driving,” and being in Sydney he thought he would “give a look in.” “Can you ride a rough horse?” asked the Colonel. “I must have slipped a lot if I can’t,” was the quaint reply. “We shoot kangaroos on horseback-and,” he continued “I can cook and track.” He was sent to the Light Horse. Another man could “shoot a bullock on sight.” “Can you ride?” the officer asked of another. “I cannot say that I am exactly a sticking plaster, but I can stick on as well as most of them.” “You look it,” said the officer who included him also in the Light Horse. A man who had driven live horses in George-street and four in a plough was sent to the Army Service Corps. This corps benefited also by a physically strong man, who was designated a stretcher-bearer. A hod-carrier equally powerful was sent to the ammunition column. In reply to the Colonel he said, “he did not care how heavy the shells might be so long as some good might be done with them.” A “bushman” from Gosford was sent to the Infantry. An undergraduate never added “Sir” to his replies and was told to cultivate the habit. He was sent to the Infantry. The day’s total included about a dozen men who had served in the Boer war.

The 1st Infantry Brigade exercised yesterday at the Kensington Racecourse, there being no route march.


The 2nd battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade will leave the Kensington racecourse this morning at 8 o’clock for a route march via the Central Railway Station to Harris-street. The force, which should pass the station at about 9.15, are expected to return to camp in time for lunch. Colonel Braund will be in command.

Mr. Dunn M.L.A., will, the enrolling officer says, be eligible for inclusion in the Light Horse Brigade when he has completed his private arrangements. Dr. A. Mark Stanton of Granville has been gazetted captain in the Army Medical Corps of the Commonwealth defence forces, and has been attached to the 20th Regiment with headquarters at Parramatta. Mr. William Barry, son of Senior-sergeant Barry of the North Sydney police, who is leaving with the expeditionary force, was yesterday presented with a purse of sovereigns at a social gathering in the North Sydney School of Arts.

New recruits moving through the Army camp lines at Liverpool, New South Wales, c1914 [AWM H03358]

New recruits moving through the Army camp lines at Liverpool, New South Wales, c1914 [AWM negative H03358]


The Minister for Public Health stated yesterday that nearly 10 per cent of the general staff attached to the administration of the Lunacy Department has been accepted for service with the Expeditionary Forces. The male staffs of the various hospitals for the insane exclusive of officers comprise 586 men and 53 of them are going to the war. One of the matrons Miss Pocock of Gladesville is going to the front having joined the Army Medical Service, in which she served during the South African war.

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Sources: NLA Trove newspaper archive; images from Australian War Memorial collection, read more about WWI voluntary recruiting here.

frederick george noble wellington

This post is follow-up research on Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887), Chemist of South Petherton. You may like to read some of my earlier posts:

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

As Susanah WELLINGTON notes in her journal, her younger brother Frederick went to boarding school at Sherborne in July 1836, a few months before his 12th birthday.

Frederick was 15 years old when he left school in 1839 and went to work as a chemist’s apprentice. Frederick took over the chemist business in St. James Street, South Petherton after his half-brother William Edwards WELLINGTON‘s death in 1850.

Frederick married Mary ADAMS in 1850 and he became an active and valued member of the South Petherton community. He sat on many parish committees and was a churchwarden for many years.

I made contact with Liz Randall of the South Petherton Local History Group which holds the archive of White’s pharmacy and general store. Liz was very helpful and sent me a copy of a bill of sale which dates back to the 1880s then Frederick WELLINGTON owned the business.

The old stationery appears to have been reused as scrap paper or as a sales journal by the White family in September 1918, during WWI, when paper was scarce in England.

Invoice stationery of FGN Wellington, Chemist of South Petherton between 1850 and 1887.

Bill of Sale header of FGN Wellington, Pharmaceutical Chemist of South Petherton between 1850 and 1887. [photo source South Petherton Local History Group]

Frederick WELLINGTON sold the business to William Charles WHITE in late 1886 or early 1887. I found a news article dated April 1887 which mentioned Frederick had recently left South Petherton so they held an election for a new churchwarden.

News report from the South Petherton Church vestry meeting notes that Frederick Welligntong had recently left town. [Western Gazette, 22 April 1887]

News report from the South Petherton Church vestry meeting notes that Frederick Wellignton had recently left the town. [Western Gazette, 22 April 1887]

Declining health may have been the reason Frederick retired and sold the business. The Western Gazette reported the sudden death of FGN Wellington on Wednesday 25 May 1887 at the age of 62, in Bristol.

Notice of the sudden death of Frederick GN Wellington in Bristol. [Western Gazette, 27 May 1887]

Notice of the sudden death of Frederick GN Wellington in Bristol. [Western Gazette, 27 May 1887]

The following article is a very detailed account of the funeral of Mr WELLINGTON in South Petherton. It appears he was very well respected and much loved by the people of the town. Among the family mourners were his children: Louisa Mary WELLINGTON (1851); Rev George WELLINGTON (1852), Assistant Curate of Whitechurch Canonicorum, Dorset; and Frederick WELLINGTON (1857), Chemist of Taunton, Somerset.

1887-06-03_Western Flying Post_Wellington FGN_Funeral

Account of the funeral of Frederick George Noble Wellington held in South Petherton on Saturday 28 May 1887. [Western Flying Post, 3 June, 1887]

The report mentions that Frederick was buried in the grounds at the north-east side of the chapel, close to his wife Mary who died 6 June 1884. Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON has a memorial in one of the beautiful stained glass windows of South Petherton Church, Somerset, England.

Thank you to Liz Randall and the South Petherton Local History Group for the wonderful work you are doing to bring the history and heritage of your town to life.

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Sources: http://www.southpethertoninformation.org.ukSouth Petherton Local History GroupBritish Newspaper ArchiveWellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; GRO Indexes and documents, Pigot’s Directories of Somerset and Dorset 1830 to 1885.

Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from WWI


5 Jul 2014 – 21 Sep 2014 
Exhibition Galleries, State Library of NSW

I saw this wonderful exhibition at the State Library of NSW a few weeks ago.

From 1918 the State Library of NSW began collecting the WWI stories of servicemen, doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers and journalists so that future generations would know about their experiences.

This extract from the exhibition program gives an insight into the Library’s collection:

By 1921 the total number of war diaries in the Library had reached 247, complemented by collections of letters and in some cases photo albums as well. Today the collection stands at around 550 diarists and over 1100 volumes.

A small number of diaries were acquired from the families of men killed abroad but the majority in this collection were purchased from men who made it home, survivors, many of them diarists over two, three or four years.

The diaries take many forms. Some were written on odd sheets of paper or in memo books or signal message books. Others were cloth or leather bound.

The soldiers, airmen, sailors and nurses who kept a diary, knew they had a big story to tell. For some their diary was a way to connect to home. They were writing for an imagined audience, for the family and friends they left behind. The importance of a  ‘conversation’ with home can hardly be overstated. Along with letters and postcards and sometimes photographs, the diaries were the Facebook of their day.

Last but not least, these wartime chroniclers wanted a record of duty done. They wrote of hard times, of battle and death and ruin everywhere. There are lines, hastily scrawled upon the eve of battle, by soldiers who knew this entry might be their last.

These are voices full of life and fun and fear; and resolute purpose. They are voices from the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century, a tragedy that engulfed an age.

Peter Cochrane – July 2014


Over 500 World War I diaries on display at the State Library of NSW.

The exhibition Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War I is beautifully curated by Elise Edmonds. The chronicle of the war is highlighted by the captivating personal accounts of those who enlisted – farmers, doctors, nurses, photographers and artists – and is supported by newspapers, photographs, artworks, maps and ephemera.

Many of the photographs in the exhibition are by Private Henry Charles MARSHALL (1890-1915) who enlisted in Sydney in the same week as my grandfather Ernest Clive BUCK (1895-1974).  My grandfather’s service number was 571 and MARSHALL’s was 577. They were both in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), 1st Infantry Battalion, E Company. They served together throughout training billeted at the racecourse at Kensington. They embarked on HMAT Afric out of Sydney for the Middle East.


Henry Charles Marshall (1890–1915). Kensington to Cairo and from Cairo to Gallipoli: Album of photographs, 1914–1915. [State Library of NSW PXA 1861]

Henry Charles MARSHALL photographed his journey from the military camp at Kensington in Sydney, to Cairo and then on to Gallipoli. He captured the daily lives of the 1st Battalion setting up camp and pitching their tents at Mena in Egypt near the pyramids.


Pitching tents in sight of pyramids, Henry Charles Marshall (1890–1915). Kensington to Cairo and from Cairo to Gallipoli: Album of photographs, 1914–1915. [State Library of NSW PXA 1861]

MARSHALL photographed the 1st Battalion rowing towards the enemy shore at Gallipoli on the afternoon of 25 April 1915. He captured candid scenes of his mates from E Company in the trenches and relaxing with mugs of tea during a lull in the fighting.


Uncaptioned photo of Australian servicemen at Gallipoli, Henry Charles Marshall (1890–1915). Kensington to Cairo and from Cairo to Gallipoli: Album of photographs, 1914–1915. [State Library of NSW PXA 1861]

 On 5 June 1915, both Henry Charles MARSHALL and Ernest Clive BUCK were severely wounded in fighting. Henry received a gun shot wound to the chest and died aboard a hospital ship and was buried at sea. Ernest was shot and bayoneted in the chest. He was evacuated to a hospital ship and then to the base hospital on the island of Malta a fortnight later; and then on to England to recover from his injuries. Ernest was one of the few who survived such severe injuries.

Private MARSHALL’s, films, photos, letters and equipment were sent back to his family in Devonport, Tasmania. His father and sister organised the photos in chronological order and created an album using information in Henry’s note books as a photo index.

I believe the Marshall family offered copies of the photos and albums to the ex-servicemen of the 1st Battalion. My grandfather Ernest had an album, Kensington to Cairo, but not the Cairo to Gallipoli volume. Maybe he did not need photos to remember the horrors of the Gallipoli campaign.


This is why we wear our hats turned up on the side, Lieut PV Ryan (1881-1950). Sketchbook purchased by the State Library of NSW in 1919.

The exhibition doesn’t only focus on Gallipoli, it gives a voice to all the brave servicemen and women, from the beginning of the war in Ausust 1914, through all the desert campaigns of the Middle East and the muddy trenches of France.

One of the diaries featured in the exhibition is that of Anne DONNELL, a nurse stationed near Ypres, France. On New Year’s Day 1918 she sat on her bed and wept, homesick and exhausted. She had been away from home for three years. Sister Donnell was working in the acute medical ward. Her patients were mainly suffering from gas poisoning and there were lots of pneumonia cases. As she wrote in her diary, she could detect the smell of sickly sweet pineapple in the air – the tell-tale sign of poison gas:

‘10 p.m. Will this restless life never end. As I write the shelling is going on again – heavier too. I am not undressing – It’s a terrible life this’.

The Life Interrupted exhibition at the State Library of NSW is free and runs until 24 September 2014. I recommend you block out a day in your diary to visit the Library, and reflect on the personal accounts of these extraordinary men and women of the global conflict a century ago, which profoundly affected and shaped Australia and its people.

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SOURCES: State Library of NSWKensington to Cairo and from Cairo to Gallipoli: Album of photographs, 1914–1915. Henry Charles MARSHALL [State Library of NSW PXA 1861]; Kensington to Cairo: photo album, 1914–1915. Henry Charles MARSHALL, Buck/Brooks family collection; WWI service records of Henry Charles MARSHALL and Ernest Clive BUCK.

local children awarded for bravery – 1923

Certificate of Merit awarded to James Gascoigne in 1923 by the Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society.

Certificate of Merit awarded to James Gascoigne in 1923 by the Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society.

Tragedy struck the Tuggerah Lakes community on 6th November, 1922 when Ethel MASCORD drowned whilst swimming in Tuggerah Lake at Pipeclay Point. It could have been far worse if not for the efforts of James GASCOIGNE and Edna CRAIGIE who saved the lives of several other children, all pupils at Kanwal Public School. The following year they received an award from the Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society of NSW.

An extract from a 1923 newspaper reads:

Edna M. Craigie (aged 11 years), Dair James Gascoigne (aged 13 years), on the 6th November, 1922, saved the lives of several children who were carried out whilst bathing at Tuggerah Lakes. A party of children, including the rescuers, named Maisie Beldon, Gwen Gascoigne, Beryl Aylward, Edna Playford, Bonnie Craigie, Connie Beldon, Max Playford and Ethel Mascord, were bathing on a shallow flat when a heavy wave washed them into deep water. Edna Craigie, assisted by James Gascoigne, rescued Gwen Gascoigne, sister of the latter. Edna Craigie and James Gascoigne again dived to the assistance of the others and were successful in bringing them all to the shore. In the case of Ethel Mascord, however, who was unconscience when rescued, all efforts to restore her failed.

Edna M. Craigie, aged 11 years

Edna M. Craigie, aged 11 years

Mr. W. E. Kirkness, J.P., Coroner, Gosford, at the magisterial inquiry held by him as to the cause of death of Ethel Mascord, added the following rider to his finding:

“I wish to place on record the meritorious conduct of the two children James Gascoigne, aged 13 years, and Edna Craigie, aged 11 years, both of whom repeatedly dived into deep water and rescued four girls from a very perilous position. They showed great bravery, and deserve the thanks of the community.”

Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society Silver Medal

Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society Silver Medal

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Sources: TROVE; NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages; Play the Game – The History of Kanwal Public School by Greg Tunn, 2011; Dair James Gascoigne’s certificate donated to Wyong District Museum & Historical Society.


liebster blog award


A while ago I received a Liebster Blog Award nomination from one of my fellow family history bloggers. Liebster is a German word meaning beloved, and the award is used to highlight smaller, lesser known blogs with less than 200 followers.

The Liebster is an award you accept with the intention of paying it forward. When accepting, you choose 5 to 10 other blogs you like and you feel are deserving of more subscribers and pass the award on to them. It’s sort of like a tech-savvy chain letter but without the annoying threat of horrible consequences and bad karma if you don’t pass it on. You are not obliged to accept the award or to even pay it forward. It’s just a way to get the word out about new blogs your followers may enjoy.

In order to accept my Liebster Award I must do the following:

  1. Thank and link the presenter of my award in my post.
  2. Post 11 random facts about myself
  3. Answer the 11 questions created for me by the award giver, and create questions to be answered by the bloggers which I nominate.
  4.  Link the blogs I enjoy and choose to nominate to this post and tell the nominees that I’ve nominated them for a Liebster Blog Award.

Thanks Kassie aka ‘Mom’ for nominating me, I will wear my badge with pride. Kassie’s blog Maybe someone should write that down is full of great advice for the family history blogger.

11 random facts about me:

  • I love being overseas on holiday on my birthday, and traveling alone is perfectly fine with me. Some of my best travel memories are of trips I have taken by myself.
  • I like swimming in the ocean and snorkelling, but scuba diving scares me.
  • I hate exercise for the sake of it. I don’t understand people who like to jog or run.
  • I want to be able to speak Spanish. I have tried for many years to learn the language, I’m still working on it.
  • My favourite colour is that in-between colour which some people see as green and others see as blue.
  • I can change a flat tyre on my car.
  • I’m overly judgemental of people who don’t use apostrophes correctly.
  • I like urban street art.
  • My new addiction is Vietnamese rice paper rolls.
  • I don’t like loose paper clips and rubber bands. They give me the heebie-jeebies.
  • I’m not comfortable with lists that have eleven points. Ten seems to me to be a  sensible number for a list, but I’m going to soldier on and follow the rules.

My answers to the questions put to me:

1.  If I weren’t blogging about this stuff I would be: wasting my time on other things.

2.  Who are you named after? I’m not named after anyone in my family. My mum wanted to call me Sally and my dad didn’t, so they agreed on Susan.

3. I would like my epitaph to read as follows: Time passes, memories stay, loved and remembered.

4.  Favorite quote:  You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss).

5.  Something I will never understand is: how the quest for money rules the world.

6.  If I could run around all day, dressed any way that I pleased I would wear: A saucy pirate wench outfit and hide a pistol in my garter. Aaarrgh.

7.  What class do you wish you had paid more attention to in school? I guess maths and commerce – then I might understand how money makes the world go round.

8.  Do you write full time? No, writing is a challenge for me, I have a full-time job as a graphic designer. I usually think in images not words.

9.  What’s your dream job? I would love to be a curator in an art gallery or museum.

10. Where is your dream Writer’s Corner? I have always dreamed of spending a year with other artists and writers in an old villa in Cascais, Portugal.

11.  What’s the craziest thing you have ever learned about your family? My grandfather Ernest was born in the same year his father Robert died (at the age of 74).

Sometimes it’s not apparent if a blog has a subscriber count under 200. Give or take a follower or two, these are some of the blogs I think are worthy of a Liebster Blog Award:

The Resident Judge of Port Phillip. This is the research blog of Janine Rizzetti, who is writing her thesis on Justice John Walpole Willis, the first Resident Judge of Port Phillip between 1841 and 1843. Janine is a thorough researcher and posts interesting stories of the colony of Melbourne. She also reviews history books.

Locksands Life. Roger is the self proclaimed “happy nerd”. He blogs on his life going up in England in the late 1940s, 50s and 60s. Roger weaves stories around his interests in mechanical-all-sorts: automobiles, bicycles, clocks, gramophones, even pre-industrial water mills. Oh, and trains, lots of trains.

Fit, Feminist, And (almost) Fifty. Two feminists in our late 40s who lead active lifestyles and have set themselves a goal: to be the fittest they’ve ever been in their lives by the time they’re 50. I’m in the same boat but often too lazy to paddle. I’m trying to follow their fun posts on how to live a fit and happy life.

Tree Rings. Dave Weller writes about the various branches of his family. Very thoughtful posts and he includes some wonderful old photos in his Wordless Wednesday posts that always put a smile on my face. I love the cheeky boy sitting in a wagon.

Apples and Anarchy. I love this blog! Natalia lives in New Zealand and is into natural foods and health psychology. Her posts are a mix of nature, gardening, healthy living and tasty recipes. Try her gluten-free Spiced Carob and Date Cake.

This Handcrafted Life. Monica is a decorative painter based in New York City. She blogs about some of her paint projects, her lovely illustrated travel journals and pinhole camera photography.

What Do Ya’ Reckon?   Mrs Bushranger shares her poetry, photography, humor, and her wonderful artwork.

Tracking Down the Family. Jennifer is an Australian family history writer who I have just started following. Her Family History Though the Alphabet posts are just lovely to read.

Bhutan Chronicles. The stories and experiences of a couple living in the land of the thunder dragon. Glorious images and stories that leave me wanting to pack my bags and hop the next flight to the top of the world.

Among My Branches. William Kernan puts a lot of thought into his family history stories. I am not sure I would have the patience to hold off publishing a story until it coincided with the same day in history e.g. 340 years ago today.

The Other Half of My Tree. Dianne Hewson is an Aussie who writes about the fearless pioneer women on her family tree.

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Now while we are talking about blogs worth reading, I’m going to sneak in two blogs I know have more than 200 subscribers but, you’re going to love them. I promise.

A Hundred Years Ago. Sheryl’s daily comments and observations on her grandmother’s diary entries are always entertaining.

Streets of Salem. Beautiful . . . just beautiful.

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Here are my 11 questions for my nominees:

1. What inspires you to blog?
2. How long does it take you to write an average post?
3. What is your favourite line from a movie?
4. Is there anything you can’t do anymore but you wish you could?
5. What is your favourite quote?
6. What would you like to achieve this year?
7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
8. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
9. If you could live in any period of history which would you choose?
10. What book reminds you of your childhood?
11. Recommend something everyone should try once in their lives?

susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney

Susanah WELLINGTON's beautifully neat copperplate writing is still readable after 180 years.

Susanah WELLINGTON’s beautifully neat copperplate writing is still readable after 180 years.

The notebook of Susanah WELLINGTON began as a diary and record of lessons kept in the early nineteenth century by a twelve-year-old girl from Yeovil, Somersetshire. The first page identifies the volume’s original owner with the name ‘Miss Susanah Wellington’ in Susanah’s neat copperplate, while the accompanying date ‘February 5th. 1832’ determines a probable beginning of the entries. The subsequent fifty-one pages are a miscellany of transcribed letters, family chronology, notes of lessons and even ‘a very nice Receipt for Rock Cakes given me by Elizabeth Neal, March 16th. 1837.’

When turned upside down and reversed, the book begins again from the back as a personal diary and family record. For reasons that will become obvious, Susanah did not write the diary’s last paragraph.

Susanah included a list of her family births, deaths and marriages in her journal.

Susanah included a list of her family’s births, deaths and marriages in her journal.

Throughout the 180 years since the notebook was first inscribed, additions in various hands have recorded family births, deaths and marriages. However, the primary interest is the extensive entries between 1832-1839. As records of middle-class life in Georgian England they are far from comprehensive but can best be described as honest, charming, and often sad fragments.

The language and tone of the diary conjures up thoughts of the novels of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. There are references to teachers and school days which remind us of the boarding school in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. There is a walk home from a country manor house in the cold and wet which illustrates the very real danger to a young lady’s health, as suffered by the eldest Miss Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and to a greater degree by Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.

There are journeys in coaches to stay with aunts and uncles in London; holidays to the coast and spa towns of Weymouth, Bath and Bristol; and church sermons, charity and large parties of visitors for Christmas dinner.

Susanah WELLINGTON was the second daughter of Yeovil ‘Chymist & Druggist’ George WELLINGTON and his second wife Elizabeth SAMPSON (SAMSON). Susanah and her family were Christians. They attended the parish church each Sunday and many of her diary entries reinforce Susanah’s belief that good deeds and words in this short life would be her salvation when she met her God in heaven. Susanah died of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) on 6 June 1838 at Glastonbury, aged eighteen years and ten months.

The notebook was inherited by Susanah’s elder sister Jane Penelope WELLINGTON. Jane married William Henry SUTTON a schoolmaster from Devon in 1842. With their six children, they emigrated to Sydney, Australia in 1854. This is apparently the way the journal arrived in Australia and it has now survived in the family for 180 years.

Australian families who can trace their ancestry to Jane Penelope WELLINGTON and William Henry SUTTON will find the information in the journal invaluable. Descendants include people with surnames of BUCK, CUNEO, HASTINGS, PICKERING, SUTTON and TAYLOR.

Susanah Wellington's little red journal.

Susanah Wellington’s little red journal.

 A note on provenance:

The notebook is a small (15 x 9.5 cm) volume with a scratched red leather cover. It was repaired in May 1995 because part of the spine had lifted and the original stitching no longer held pages intact.

Some leaves appear to have been torn out over the years. However, this has not destroyed the continuity of the letters or diary narrative. Sections of the old handwriting are faint, particularly on the first few pages, but the text is generally easy to follow.

The notebook was first owned by Susanah, and then by her elder sister Jane Penelope WELLINGTON. Jane’s daughter Rosa SUTTON became the next owner. She in turn, passed it to her daughters Winifred, Penelope and Gertrude PICKERING. The three sisters never married and in their later years they gave the notebook to cousins from the HASTINGS branch who are custodians of the notebook today.

The HASTINGS family are happy for extracts of Susanah’s journal to be published on our family history website. We hope you enjoy this little treasure.

If you subscribe to the Branches of Our Family website you will receive email updates when we publish extracts from Susanah’s journal as well as other family history articles.

Sources: Wellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; Death Certificate of Susanah Wellington, Pigot’s Directories of Somerset 1830 to 1840. I am especially grateful to Terry HASTINGS for his generosity in sharing Susanah’s journal with me. Terry has done a terrific job in transcribing the entries in the notebook and has provided his knowledge and insights into the life and times of Georgian England.

two penny worth of arsenic

Coronial inquest by Mr Richard CAINES, coroner of Somerset – 30 June 1830

At Trent, near Yeovil, on Mary SYMES, aged 47.

The deceased had latterly been an occasional servant at the public house in that parish, but had left about three weeks, not being able to perform her work; having got better, she applied to be again employed, but was told she was not wanted; since which time she had done but little, and had received some parochial relief.

On Friday last she went to offer service at Yeovil, and on her return showed a paper containing some powder, which it appeared she took, and died in about two hours afterwards.

George Edwards WELLINGTON and his brother, sons of Mr WELLINGTON of Yeovil, druggist, proved that on Friday last she bought at their shop two penny worth of arsenic, saying that it was to kill rats, and that it was for Mr WHITTLE.

It was proved that the deceased was of weak mind, and in great poverty, and the Jury returned a verdict of Lunacy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Yes, you guessed it – my ancestors sold the arsenic to the unfortunate Mary SYMES.

Arsenic was used in the manufacture of practically everything in Georgian and Victorian England. It was used as a green dye in cloth and wallpaper manufacture, in food, beer, cosmetics as well as rat poison. As evidenced in the inquest above, you could buy arsenic over the counter at your local chemist shop for “a penny worth an ounce.” In minute doses it’s a slow and silent killer that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and just one hundredth of an ounce is enough to kill. The “two penny worth of arsenic” poor Mary SYMES bought and consumed was enough to kill 50 people and all the rats in Trent and Yeovil combined.


For an interesting read on arsenic and the history of poisons in the Victorian era you might like to view Jen Newby’s blog post Arsenic Century. Jen writes about women’s history because, as she says “our great-grandmothers weren’t all chained to the kitchen sink“.

[Sources: Somerset Inquests and Murders 1825-1830; The Arsenic Century by James C Whorton]

trains, turkeys and tobacco – 1879

Letter from William Henry SUTTON to his son Frederick SUTTON – 4 April 1879

Letter from William Henry SUTTON to his son Frederick SUTTON – 4 April 1879

George St. Waterloo
4th April 1879

Dear Fred,

I have spoken to Mr Smith (head clerk in the manager’s office) respecting your leave of absence; and he promised me if you applied for it about a week before hand, he would arrange it. I forward a copy of application for your guidance, so that you have only to make a neatly written transcript, with no false spelling, and send it in due time, addressed as I have given.

I thought it better you should apply for a week’s leave at once, which of course will prevent your obtaining another week’s leave before the expiration of twelve months from the time of your getting it. We will make the best arrangements for yourself and Maggie that we can, George having Mr Saxon with him at present, and John and Mary having an old couple living with them.

The turkeys are splendid birds, especially the larger one; and if they get back in condition it will not be their fault, as they are famous gobblers. I expect one of them will be victimised when “the event” comes off (which I forgot to say is fixed for Wednesday the 23rd April), but as we shall be obliged to eat it cold, I fear we shall not have it in perfection.

There seems to have been some mistake about Mrs Cunio’s letter; Mary says she has received but one, which she has answered; and she means to rate you soundly for accusing her of neglect when she did not deserve it.

I propose forwarding your ring in a small package of tobacco by next Tuesday’s morning train – so look out for it. As you have so recently heard from your mother I suppose you know as much of the news as I can tell you. When you have obtained leave you had better let us know your intended movements.

With love to Maggie and kind regards to Mr and Mrs Cunio when you see them.

I am dear Fred,
Your affectionate father,
W H Sutton.

The Turkey Gobbler

A copy of this letter was given to me in about 2006 by Mrs Win BRANDER. Win’s late husband Robert BRANDER was a grandson of Frederick SUTTON (1851-1919), the person the letter was written to.

In 1879 Fred’s parents William Henry SUTTON and Jane Penelope WELLINGTON and his four youngest sisters were living at George Street, Waterloo – an inner suburb of Sydney, Australia. William Henry worked for the Great Southern Railway as a writing clerk in the parcels office of Central Station. His son Fred also worked for the railway and lived in southern NSW at Murrumburrah between Young and Yass.

Fred is applying for a week’s leave (the only leave he is entitled to within a twelve-month period) so he is able to attend “the event” – his sister Honor SUTTON’s marriage to Robert BUCK on 23 April 1879 at the Church of St Silas, Waterloo.

Fred’s father says; “We will make the best arrangements for yourself and Maggie that we can, George having Mr Saxon with him at present, and John and Mary having an old couple living with them.”

  • Maggie is Fred’s wife Margaret Madeline CUNIO (1862-1949).
  • George is Fred’s older brother George Wellington SUTTON (1846-1929) who was an engineer on the railways and lived in Union Street, Newtown.
  • John and Mary are John Simpson TAYLOR (1847-1927) the husband of Fred’s eldest sister Mary Jane SUTTON (1845-1928), they lived in Station Street, Newtown.
  • Mr and Mrs CUNIO are Fred’s wife’s parents, Antonio CUNIO (CUNEO) and Catherine BYE. They lived at Binalong between Murrumburrah and Yass.
  • Mr Saxon and the old couple are most likely renting rooms in the family homes.

Let us hope Fred’s ring arrived safe and sound in the tobacco pouch on Tuesday’s morning train and he enjoyed his one week leave with his family in Sydney.

The gobblers we can assume were fattened up and at least one of them graced the wedding banquet on the day.

This event would have been the last time Fred saw his father. William Henry SUTTON died less that four months later of disease of the heart and liver on 5 August 1879. He was 71 years old. You can read a little more about William Henry SUTTON in this post.

proof of life lived

What is the earliest record that proves you are who you say you are?
What can you produce that shows where you come from?

For most of us living in a western society it will be the registration of our birth. Or possibly, our adoption records. For some of you young’ens out there it might even be a black and white ultrasound snapshot of you inside your birth mummy’s tummy.

My earliest record of life is this telegram sent to my grandmother in England which pre-dates the formal registration of my birth by about a month.
It says a lot – the time, date and place I was born, who my parents were as well as my grandma’s name and where she lived. Most importantly it says I am part of a family. This little slip of paper is gold to me.

From the minute we are born our parents-slash-guardians begin filling in forms and registration papers in order to sign us up to the life we have entered. By the time we finish primary school our mums have worn out five ball-point pens (and their next-to-last nerves) dealing with all the paperwork involved in getting us kids enrolled in everything from local community and school groups to federal government programs.

Where does all this paperwork go?

We could assume that by the time we reach 18, and are required to fill in and sign our own forms, there is a massive filing cabinet in a basement of a government building. Attached to it is our name stamped out on a dodgy dymo label. The drawers are chock-full of all the “necessary paperwork” of our childhood. Immunisation records, old dolomite savings bank books, school excursion permission slips, as well as regional swimming carnival ribbons and Year 8 school reports (Susan has an aptitude for history, but needs to apply herself in maths).

I know of some keen parents who lovingly save all the treasures of their offspring – baby’s first hair cut, toddler’s first shoes, kindergarten drawings in scrapbooks, best and fairest trophy for under-ten soccer. Well, these parents tend to start out super-keen with the first child, but by the third one they are lucky to remember to bring a camera along to Billy’s Year 6 prize-giving ceremony.

Then at some point there is a clean-out. We grow up and move out, and our parents decide to de-clutter. They ask us if we want to keep any of this “stuff” and, as young know-it-all teens, focusing on our future and not our past, we say “get rid of it”, or we box it up and store it on the top shelf in our parent’s garage for ten years.

When we are ready to claim our early lives, we find the box got wet at some point and now everything smells of mildew, the head has fallen off our swimming trophy and a mouse has shredded our diaries and school certificates to make a nest for it’s family.

So we’ve lost a few treasures of our youth, there are still the family photo albums, right? Sure, they’re full of fading “kodak moments” of birthday parties, family weddings, and class photos – none of them are captioned (who’s that guy? where was that taken?), most are not dated and there are just so many of them. In 50-year’s time when our parent’s minds have faded and we are doing a final de-clutter of the family home, no-one will remember who, what or when, and most will be tossed out.

And heaven help the descendants of the digital camera and email age. Does your grandma still cherish the SMS text message your dad sent her when you were born? I know you have thousands of family photos stored on that computer – but have you backed them up? What happens in a couple of year’s time when your computer’s hard drive fails? Where are your memories then – the proof of your life lived?

Yes there is facebook, blogging, “the cloud”, flickr and other electronic media. All exciting and easy-to-use methods of publishing. I’m a convert! They are great ways of storing your photos, publishing your journals, and sharing your life with your family and friends . . . and the rest of the planet. Whatever you do, don’t forget your passwords will you?

I understand not all of us are interested in keeping every treasure from our past – me neither. No, I’m serious! You’d be surprised at the amount of “my stuff” I throw out, give away or recycle. I live my life in the present and looking forward, I’m happy for my memories and life experiences to last as long as I draw breath, and hope I will be remembered fondly by those who knew me personally.

It’s just that I love social history, I like to collect “other people’s stuff”, to learn about their life experiences. That’s what I love about researching my family history, the detective work that brings an insight into how my ancestors lived their lives.

So at the end of my life what will there be to prove who I was? What will I have produced which shows where I came from?

My memories, my life experiences and my family history research.